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$750,000 grant from the Ohio Board of Regents promises internships, innovation

By Alexandria Moore
On April 22, 2014

After a competitive application process, the Ohio Board of Regents has awarded Miami University a $748,566 grant for in-state internships. This will serve as seed money for several projects, including the construction of a high-tech interactive media headquarters in Cincinnati, the development of an internship-focused mobile app and the creation of 83 undergraduate summer positions among Cincinnati-based companies.

These propositions align with the Ohio Board of Regents' primary stipulation, which called for a plan to foster the state's economic development and increased networking resources through partnerships between Ohio-based universities and companies. Grants were awarded to universities on the basis of how well their proposals embodied this goal, with Miami's endowment sitting at the 90th percentile. Universities to receive comparable grants include University of Akron, Bowling Green State University and University of Dayton, among others that received between $100,000 and $550,000.

Director of Career Services Michael Goldman attributes Miami's grant to the planning of a new facility, the Cincinnati Digital Innovation Center, which will be designed specifically for the Miami students who take part in these internships, which will lend them technological resources to match those in San Francisco and Luxembourg.

These positions will cover an array of fields, from manufacturing and human resources to finance and computer technology, Heather Christman, Senior Associate Director of Career Services said.

"We proposed replicating the San Francisco [Armstrong Interactive Media Studies] AIMS Center, which will mean that Miami students on a residential basis will participate in internships with local companies four days a week, attend class on the fifth day, and then participate in networking opportunities during the week," Goldman said.

As the AIMS Center model shows, the Cincinnati Digital Innovation Center will provide resources for business, engineering, fine arts, education, arts and science majors, offering a comprehensive interdisciplinary outpost. Students will also have the opportunity to earn credit for these internships, Christman said. To do so, they will be required to file a request through their department.

This center will be a cornerstone project of what the Ohio Board of Regents' grant aimed to achieve. Its establishment will signify a long-term partnership between Miami University and the businesses of Cincinnati as well as an innovative approach to internships.

Whitney Riley, the associate director of Development for Corporate and Foundation Relations, described the competitive edge this may offer participating students.

"Cincinnati is really growing and strengthening its base from a techno perspective, and we'll be near new firms starting up that we'll be able to plug into," Riley said.

While many universities that receive grants apply them to co-op programs, Miami students primarily choose summer internships, an idea that was incorporated into the design of this new program.

Eighty-three positions are now reserved for Miami University students, which will extend through the summer of 2015. Among these employers are high-profile companies like the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Fifth Third Bank, as well as companies like David J. Joseph, whose industry in recycling relies heavily on innovation. All 18 companies are offering these internships with pay, 40 percent of which will be reimbursed through the grant, Christman said.

While this goal is a short-term solution, sustainability within these new partnerships is a primary goal in the program Miami is developing, Goldman said.

"Building long-term relationships with the business, the mobile app, and connecting our faculty with state-wide employers ... we feel confident that there will be a long-term return," Goldman said.

Goldman explained that among the 18 companies with whom Miami University will be partnering, there is a mutual understanding that these initial 83 positions will likely give way to more positions in the future, which will require skill sets in all disciplines of study.

"They are very interested in pursuing talent from all majors, they are ones who look for an inherent skill-set," Riley said. "They'll be interested in the history major as the finance major as the comparative religion major. Their personality and their interests."

Riley worked directly with these companies to procure internship positions for Miami undergraduates, pitching the accolades of both the school's academic data and the quality of the students themselves. He explained that it was important to enumerate the cross-disciplinary qualities of Miami undergraduates, from the impressive ranking of the Farmer School of Business to the importance of humanity majors in the professional world.

"More generally I talked about what President Hodge calls the 't-shaped' student, which means not just zeroing in on any one quality, but having breadth and depth in any given subject," Riley said.

The Ohio Board of Regents and Miami University expect interns based out of the Cincinnati Digital Innovation Center to hold the resources necessary to establish their own long-term professional networks, using Ohio-based businesses to build a career over the course of a summer.

Applications for these positions are provided directly through each company, a complete list of which can be found in Hoyt Hall's Career Services department.

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